Sanchez keeps Arsenal in top-four hunt after 2-0 win over Sunderland

Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez has an early effort at goal but his shot sailed well over Jordan Pickford's crossbar

Alexis Sanchez kept alive Arsenal's fading hopes of qualifying for the Champions League as the Chilean broke Sunderland's stubborn resistance to seal a crucial 2-0 win on Tuesday.

Arsene Wenger's side were struggling to see off relegated Sunderland until Sanchez came to the rescue with two goals deep into the second half at the Emirates Stadium.

Despite refusing to sign a new contract, Sanchez remains the only Arsenal player consistently performing at a world-class standard and the former Barcelona forward, playing despite a recent thigh injury, is the sole reason they still have a faint chance of a top-four finish.

In reality, the fifth-placed Gunners need a miracle to qualify for the Champions League for a 20th successive season.

Arsenal's sixth win in their last seven games moved them within one point of fourth-placed Liverpool, but there was bad news from Eastlands where Manchester City beat West Bromwich Albion to retain their three-point lead over Wenger's team.

Arsenal host Everton on Sunday, while Liverpool entertain relegated Middlesbrough and third-placed City travel to Watford.

If Liverpool win and City avoid defeat, Arsenal will miss out on the Champions League for the first time in two decades, even if they end the season with a victory.

Wenger's approval ratings are at an all-time low with Arsenal's disenchanted supporters and it will be fascinating to see if he decides to stay if the top four proves beyond reach.

Wenger had urged fans not to boycott the Sunderland fixture in their latest protest against the Gunners boss, but when the Frenchman emerged from the tunnel before kick-off he was greeted with swathes of empty red seats around the Emirates.

Sanchez thought he'd given Arsenal an early lead when his 20-yard strike flashed past Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, only for a linesman's flag to curtail his celebrations.

Olivier Giroud was the culprit after flicking the ball goalwards with his arm, and the Arsenal striker wasted a chance to redeem himself moments later when his close-range effort was pushed away by Pickford.

Wenger moaned this week that Arsenal's top-four rivals were benefiting from playing teams with their minds already on their holidays, ignoring the fact the Gunners enjoyed victories over a Manchester United side more concerned with the Europa League final and a Stoke team with nothing to play for.

Sunderland, losers in nine of their last 12 games and relegated last month, were hardly a step up in class.

- Lead balloon -

Yet Arsenal didn't find it easy to kill them off.

A sharp stop from Pickford prevented Aaron Ramsey converting Mesut Ozil's pass, while Hector Bellerin curled just over before Granit Xhaka's strike skidded wide.

Never totally convincing at the back, Arsenal were almost breached against the run of play when Didier N'Dong tested Petr Cech, who then had to save from Jermain Defoe.

That sparked another flurry of Arsenal pressure, but both Bellerin and Ramsey shot into the side-netting, while Rob Holding headed straight at Pickford.

News of City's goals against West Brom went down like a lead balloon at half-time and Nacho Monreal almost deepened Arsenal's gloom with a comically miscued backpass that had Cech scrambling to keep it out.

That foreshadowed a nervous period for Arsenal, who looked short of ideas in the final third, and after Giroud glanced a header wide, Wenger sent on Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi.

When the breakthrough finally arrived in the 72nd minute, inevitably it was Sanchez who saved the day, tapping in from virtually on the line after Ozil's pass had unhinged the Sunderland defender.

Sanchez wasn't finished yet and he doubled Arsenal's lead with a close-range header from Giroud's flick eight minutes later.

Whether it will be enough to save Arsenal's dispiriting season remains to be seen.

 

Next Story
LATEST STORIES
Nigerian defender Saka Azeez dies after collapsing during training

Nigerian defender Saka Azeez was confirmed dead after he collapsed during training with his team Kwara United.

Chespol loses shoe, then roars to second best steeplechase

Kenyan teenager Celliphine Chespol, after temporarily losing a shoe on the penultimate lap, recovered to run the second fastest women's 3,000 metres steeplechase ever at the Prefontaine Classic Diamond League meeting on Friday.

Simbas ready for Germans: Rugby Wangila warns the visitors to be prepared for a tough rugby duel

Eagles will have to sharpen their claws at RFUEA grounds from 4pm today.

Tusker tackle Leopards: Brewers keen to make AFC tipsy in Kinoru

League champions hope to extend unbeaten run after poor start.

KPL: Refs' boss want action against Adagala

Kenya Football Referees Association (KFRA) chairman GMT Ottieno wants action taken against Muhoroni Youth chairman Moses Adagala for allegedly harassing visiting teams.

Cricket: Coast cricket league resumes

Coast Gymkhana Sports Club will hope to spring to second position when Coast 50 overs cricket league resume tomorrow. Gymkhana host Shree Cutchi Leva starting at 10am.

More Stories
Nigerian defender Saka Azeez dies after collapsing during training

Nigerian defender Saka Azeez was confirmed dead after he collapsed during training with his team Kwara United.

Tusker tackle Leopards: Brewers keen to make AFC tipsy in Kinoru

League champions hope to extend unbeaten run after poor start.

KPL: Refs' boss want action against Adagala

Kenya Football Referees Association (KFRA) chairman GMT Ottieno wants action taken against Muhoroni Youth chairman Moses Adagala for allegedly harassing visiting teams.

Mandela signs new contract

Kenyan international defender Brian Mandela has signed a two-year contract extension with Premier Soccer League (PSL) side Maritzburg United.

Silva joins Manchester City as Premier League clubs start to splash the cash

Manchester City have begun what is predicted to be a record summer of spending across the Premier League by paying Monaco a reported 43 million pounds ($55 million) to sign versatile midfielder Bernardo Silva.

Wenger drops Petr Cech for Arsenal’s FA Cup final against Chelsea on Sunday

Arsene Wenger has dropped an FA Cup bombshell by picking David Ospina to play at Wembley.

Conte offers support for Wenger ahead of final showdown

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte offered his backing to Arsenal counterpart Arsene Wenger on Friday, even if he hopes to pile on the misery for the Frenchman in the FA Cup final.

Arsenal’s Shkodran Mustafi set to Miss FA Cup final through injury

Arsene Wenger will be forced to make a last-minute FA Cup final fitness decision on Shkodran Mustafi.

Jose Mourinho reveals how long he has left in management

Jose Mourinho claims he still feels like a 'nobody' at Manchester United but feels he has another 15 years ahead of him as manager.

Free agent Zabaleta joins West Ham on two-year contract

West Ham United have signed full back Pablo Zabaleta on a two-year deal, the Premier League club said on Friday.